the plantation Collective 4
Interview by Joanna Cresswell
Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums – or even other types of photography? What are the important elements of what you do? I guess mostly it's important to me that I really don't know where I am going. There's almost a need to look back at existing material which leads me to some final pieces which appear to be something which could be called artworks. Basically I junk myself up with things from very different worlds. So it's essential to me that I do not only stick in one circle, call it the “art world”, but switch from this scene to the skateboard scene and fashion scene towards the Cologne techno scene and back again to the art world. So I am pretty much influenced by a lot of stuff, just like everyone else, but from my early age on I was fascinated by these different kinds of worlds out there. You know three years ago, I was really out of money and one of my best friends offered me a job to take photographs at a wedding of a physicians family. I was so broke I took the job and of course you know in the art world you shouldn’t even mention to do something like this, but there was that moment, late at night, all those really well dressed guys took me to the back entrance and they were all carrying some ALDI shopping bags with beer cans. So they were forming a circle and downing cans of beer. All those tight suits and this rude raw example. That night I saw a great sculptural piece. I could never have imagined something like this before. So I guess I really need to make a big round to finally come up with something which might be called an art work.
Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetical interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together, or are they representational, metaphorical? What is the weight that holds these pictures together? I don't know, I guess none of this is my first interest. In the series Emerging Sculptures they refer in the eye of the viewer and his/her cultural background. Some see a greater metaphorical issue, and others just form. For me each body of work feels more like a step, a move, in a direction in which I am going. Thats makes it actually really hard for me to push/ show/ adverb those series, they feel pretty far away straight away. For my latest book, I didn't even do a launch. It was published, here it is, it's there, end.
Are you a photographer or an artist using photography? I started as a photographer at the age of 14. That was in 1995. Honestly for me art was just something I knew from my class schedule. But over the years I started to wonder more and more and felt pretty lonely surrounded by guys talking about lenses and exposure times. These days this whole thing feels a hundred miles away from me. A lens, a camera, it's all just fucking tools.
Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image? My work has become very conceptual, at least if you see it from far away. It consists of little fragments. For example my curatorial project Die Ausstellung which recently took place in Duesseldorf where I invited 18 other artists to deal with the topic of representation and image production. Or my latest film project along american artist Rita McBride and the Nueans collective. They seem to be very different projects and from a certain point of view they are, but for me they all refer to issues of my interest, and always a part of the question is what can actually be an image? How is an image thought within its spatial parameters? There haven't been to many curators who get through the core of my body of work. Because it's not this or the other, it's a little bit of all of these things which creates a bigger something.
Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? I don't construct things in a technical way. I don't even need a studio. I mean I sit there all day long, but nothing happens. (laugh!) But I do feel that another part of me is always constructing a lot of projects and things I have to work on and then in between this big constructed work load it happens that for one little moment things fall apart and create something unexpected. For example while I was still a skateboard photographer around 1998-2009 I was storing lots of images which I just couldn't send to a magazine, I wasn't sure why, but I knew there was something about them. It took me quite some time and some more books to finally look at them and draw the line which constructed their meaning which lead to the series skateboarders acting in space.
Are you interested in the notion of your pictures as objects? Do you think about how their physicality may endure as you are photographing them or is that an afterthought? Pictures aren't objects, they just might refer to any physical form which feels familiar to us. I would prefer to stop taking any more of them. Taking pictures is not that important to me any more. I guess there are not many thoughts left at all, when I pick up my mobil phone to push the button on it. (laugh)
Often sculptural photographic works are concerned with elevating banal objects, situations or events to a status of ‘art’ – when does something become art for you? My latest body of work Emerging Sculptures changes between the feel of a flea market snapshot and the well-considered gesture of an artist (draping a handbag onto the engine hood). For me it was an attempt to release the photograph from its set in stone meaning. I don't know if it worked out, but at the latest show of that series my artist friends were thrilled by the sculptural work I seemingly realized using that handbag, while my mother was looking at that same image and asked me at which flea market I took that shot. At least it was a lot of fun that night. These days, and these days are good days for art, I believe there isn't a single thing which you can indicate as art, without looking at its references, its relation to the space it's been shown in, its neighbours on the wall, the artists' Oeuvre. Just look at it all! Then you might think for one moment, Ja... it could be called art.
Titles from top:
Emerging Sculpture #15, 2012
Emerging Sculpture #10, 2012
Emerging Sculpture #07, 2012
Emerging Sculpture #06, 2012
Emerging Sculpture #4, Video, 2012